Picking at My Doubts

When I think to myself, “The world would be better a place if it did ____ more,” I wonder whether that action would actually make the world a better place or if it’s just a selfish desire for the world to do what I already do (and thus recognize and validate my action).

For example, I keep thinking that the world would be a better place if people created more art — if we drew more sketches, sculpted more sculptures, painted more paintings, crafted more pottery, wrote more poems, and so on. It’s a bold statement — and a romantic one — but, again, would that actually make the world a better place, or is the idea lead by a selfish motive, a reflection of my vanity?

A dear friend had this to say about my musing, which I think is worth mentioning:
“Are you assuming that being led by a selfish motive and making the world a better place are mutually exclusive?”

My response is that, no, I agree that they aren’t mutually exclusive. I used the example of “creating more art” to show what I meant about how often it seems that the idea of improving the world and the things that one does (or I do, in this case) tend to be intertwined. Can it be positive? Yeah, I think so. If someone who is a Doctor Without Borders says, “You know, if people volunteered more and helped those who were less fortunate more often, the world would be a better place,” I think we would agree with her.

But the ideas that come up when it comes to making the world a better place aren’t as black and white as that one. Take “creating more art,” for example. Does it really make the world a better place? What kind of data or facts am I going off of to believe that it would make the world a better place? Am I simply taking the anecdotal evidence that some people find my writing pleasant and applying it to extrapolate its correlation to the world being a better place? If me making art (i.e. writing) makes people happy, does it necessitate that others making art, too, makes people happy? Perhaps so, and perhaps not. Regardless, it’s not very easy to say, and it makes it even more egregious to assume that “more people creating more art = better world.”

It’s a roundabout way of saying that the big things I want to believe in — the big things I want to discover! — aren’t always easy to believe in, and I have to think about whether I am arriving there through an unbiased collection of facts or I’m picking-and-choosing the facts I come across to suit a belief I desperately hold.

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6 thoughts on “Picking at My Doubts

  1. I think any endeavour done with an intention for human connect, makes the world a better place. Whether it is arrived at through creative means, or through repetitive, done-by-the-book means. Whether we take things for granted or whether they excite us, the very reason that they are appealing to our individual humanity in some way, makes it worthy. I sometimes let out a small laugh if I see a bus with an interesting and funny advertisement on it. To most, it is a kitschy, confusing, annoying piece of blatant commercialism, disturbing their sense of balance and peace. To me, it is wonderful, part of what makes modern life what it is.

    As long as we do what we do, and it has some value, to us or to others, we are making the world better.

    1. Hey Amrita,

      First of all, thanks for your thoughtful response! I really appreciate it.

      I think you and I are talking about the same thing — to you, these “endeavors done with an intention for human connect” make the world a better place, while for me (to use the example I wrote about), more people creating art makes the world a better place. You have your reasons for believing so (that you derive pleasure from certain instances where you feel that connection), and I have my reasons for believing so, as well (I find art pleasurable, and others have told me they find my art pleasurable). Taking these instances, we arrive to the conclusion that more of these instances would lead to more of the positive feeling, and thus the world would be a better place.

      The point I bring up in this post, and this question is both aimed at your belief as much as it is at mine, is that we arrived at the conclusion that the world would be a better place if these things happened more often through anecdotal evidence that we cobbled together to fit our already held belief (more or less). It doesn’t necessitate that (taking my belief, for example) more people creating art, despite whatever positive feeling or results I see around me, results in a better world — for people, art might be a burden, a phony craft, or something only a select few should engage in! This possibility (or maybe reality — who knows) makes me question whether I simply project what I believe to be positive as part of a solution or if I am correctly arriving at a grand ol’ belief!

      Of course, I agree with what you say in the end, that “As long as we do what we do, and it has some value, to us or to others, we are making the world better.” My justification, though, isn’t as foundational as I like to believe it is, I suppose, and I find it important (or at least worthwhile) to ask why it is that I believe I am making the world better.

      Anyway, thanks again for your comment!

      Cheers,

      Hans

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